AT least 139 immigration inspectors at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and other airports and seaports were reshuffled and reassigned as part of the agency’s continuing efforts to prevent corruption and develop the professionalism of its rank and file.
The reshuffle was an offshoot of the recent suspension of four immigration officers who allegedly tried to facilitate the departure of several overseas Filipino workers with fake overseas exit certificates from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration at the Naia, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
He said the 139 immigration officers and immigration supervisors will be reassigned to airports in Mactan-Cebu, Kalibo, Clark, Davao, and in Manila.
Also affected in the revamp are the international seaports in Zamboanga and several border crossing stations in Palawan and Mindanao where immigration officers were deployed to strengthen border security at the country’s southern backdoor.
“We intend to continually implement this job rotation scheme for our immigration officers not only as a deterrent against corruption but, more importantly, to develop their skills as gatekeepers of our country,” Morente said.
The BI chief explained that by reassigning to other ports and exposing them to other work functions of the bureau, the immigration officers will be able to develop and enhance their potentials as civil servants.
Morente said he had instructed Marc Red Mariñas, acting chief of the BI’s port operations division, to periodically rotate the assignments of the bureau’s airport and seaport personnel.
It was learned that the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU) at the Naia was most largely affected by the reshuffle as its manpower underwent a change from top to bottom.
The TCEU are the ones who stop the departure of Filipino travelers suspected of being human trafficking and illegal recruitment victims pursuant to the guidelines set by the Department of Justice.
Immigration officers are responsible for conducting immigration formalities for all international travelers entering and exiting the country.
They are considered as the BI’s frontline employees as they are the first Filipinos that foreign visitors come into contact with upon arriving in any of the country’s ports of entry.